WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE WACK MC?
Also known as the sucka MC, the wack rapper, the dumb rappers, the weak ass, the non-spittin’, the no talent, no skill, the fake rapper, the fake MC, the punk MC, the garbage ass rappers. What happened to them?
Now if you are as old as I am, you practically watched hip-hop develop and grow as if it was a childhood friend. Now if you been on this planet since 2000 or so, I’ll inform you that once upon a time there was a time where the sucka MC — the wack MC — was the most vile and detested villain in rap music. No one wanted to be a wack MC under any circumstances. To be called a wack MC were fighting/battling/beefing words. To truly be labeled as a wack MC was something that stuck and stung.
Who wanna battle? I’m bad to the bone marrow
The Earth got one sun but I walk with three shadows
With Allah, my supernatural bodyguard
Niggas couldn’t touch me if they gave me a massage
MCs will compete with lyrics and beats get crushed
I’ll hit you in your chest so hard, your shoulders will touch, What? ~ Canibus
The wack MC — or sucka MC — was the designated anonymous target in a ton of everyday rhymes. Many rappers spent much of their track order telling how far from wack they were with their high-flying rhymes, and how they make wack rappers suffer. Wack MCs were maimed and mutilated, decapitated and eaten in rhymes. They were also torn apart, shot, lynched, stabbed, sliced, burned, grilled, cooked, flattened, punched, slapped, kicked, strangled, thrown off of skyscrapers as well as hurled into outer-space. Not safe times for the wack MC.
For those who were not there, I’ll have to tell you that It…Was…Glorious. You see, in the era of combating wack rappers, and by proxy wack rap in general, rappers showcased a level of skill that was beyond stupendous. It was magnificent. It was epic. It was like watching highly skilled South Korean players choose Lei Wulong in a Tekken game; as beautiful as the essence of poetry itself. They made it their thing to have complexity, such as highly syllabic rhyme schemes, asymmetric rhyme schemes, melodic speed rapping, image inducing, high vocabulary, word bending, even stuttering rap styles. This was called having lyricism.
But it didn’t stop there; you also had content. Content, such as speaking on social issues, police brutality, from poor to rich, ugly duckling stories, positivity as well as gangsta rap, Afro-centric themes, mental and spiritual elevation. Sure drug hustler rap existed, but it was counter-balanced by a wide variety of content.
Then you also had personal credibility; the best rappers used to take pristine care of their public image to make sure that everything they were saying or ever said was congruent with their life and background. Nas for example, was never a gangsta but he was a street watcher, therefore he became a bit of a street prophet speaking on what he observes. Wu-Tang Clan were actually fans of old Kung-Fu flicks, comic books, and other things. Five Percenters were Five Percenters. Those who spoke about hustling actually did in fact hustle drugs or some sort of product before.
Is it a moot point that rappers once had actual rap names? There was a time with rappers chose sick names: Method Man, Redman, Sticky Fingaz, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, KRS One, Big Punisher, Cuban Link, The Game, Posdnuos, Q-Tip, Phife, Mase, Jay-Z, & Rakim Allah — A rapper with God in his name. All these varying colorful names with differing personalities and skill, it was a marvel. In fact it was such a marvel, when rappers collaborated with other rappers it looked very much like when Wolverine showed up in a Spider-Man comic book. So who was the wack rappers? And what happen to them?
Wack rappers… It seems like yesterday on how Will Smith was considered a wack rapper. At the time, rappers criticized The Fresh Prince for his jovial,
white suburb-friendly rhymes. While skilled, he was considered soft. Squishy. Not thugged out. Not hood. Not gangsta. Not hard. The Fresh Prince — yes, that’s Will Smith — was practically the Drake of his time.
So late eighties early nineties, what happened with this wack rapper? This wack rapper, despite harsh criticism from his rap peers, ended up making music industry history by being the first rapper to win a Grammy, and after a few more songs he had a six season show and a prolific movie career. Currently, Will Smith is an apex movie star, and among the highest paid and sought out actors in the business. While others didn’t share that same level of success, rappers such as Kid-n-Play were also considered wack and they ended up responsible for three teen movie cult classics between the House Party series and Class Act.
Who else was wack? MC Hammer. Let me be clear — when I was a kid, I honestly didn’t know MC Hammer was a wack rapper. His stuff was catchy, he seemed like a reasonable man, and he even had his own Saturday morning cartoon. The reason I didn’t realize that MC Hammer was a wack rapper as a child was because he catered to children. In this case, the rapper wasn’t teen-friendly, he was child friendly. Unlike the Fresh Prince, MC Hammer’s rap style was simplistic and… looking back at it all, wack. While P.Diddy get a lot of credit and infamy for straight samples, I think I’m correct in my assessment on how MC Hammer sampled Rick James with little to no mixing involved. MC Hammer, was incredibly wack. MC Hammer created the phenomenon of disdain called “going pop”; that meant a lot of things, but the negative connotation was that you sacrifice skill, content and credibility for stacks of cash, pretty much. In rap going pop, there were many rappers who detested hip-hop becoming T.V. commercial jingles, and the like.
While MC Hammer went far more pop than the Fresh Prince did, he did not share the Prince’s fate. MC Hammer went broke, and he didn’t really have anyone in the rap community to aid or assist him. MC Hammer seemed like a total product of the industry; no ties, no lyricism. While the business savvy Masta P tried to give him another hand in rap, “Hammer” now older, rapping as if he’s thugged out… really didn’t sell. He had no credibility to sell the notion that he was gangsta.
(SO!) Roll out the red carpet cause I’m kickin’ this
Vanilla Ice platinum? That shit’s ridiculous
Excuse my French, but profanity is all I knew
And to you other sellouts, oh yeah, eff you too ~ Phife of A Tribe Called Quest
Vanilla Ice was an industry A&R product that was, like Frankenstein, a composite of multiple rappers and ideas, primarily a white MC Hammer. And what was worse, was the fact that every rapper knew this. This did not end well. While Vanilla Ice was an ill-advised attempt to cross-over and break boundaries, he set back the possibility of a white rapper a couple of years. Interestingly, the one who followed him was not an industry created phenomenon, and is pretty fucking good at rapping, to say the least.
Before we leave the early 90’s, I’ll also state that the “New Jack Swing” style R&B was also deemed wack. Those rap breaks where R.Kelly tried to rap? Horrible. And this is before Bone Thugs and Nelly arrived to actually show rappers and singers alike how to fuse the two genres. This is before TP2.com… this was Born Into the 90’s. Back then it seemed like singers were trying to look like rappers. Of course they are not rappers, but genre blending was also taboo at the time. Rappers were mad at other rappers who even got singers on their tracks. It wasn’t until the mid-90’s when singers collaborating with rappers were fully accepted.
I find myself in dire need of mind bleach when I have to remember the athletes who tried to rap, and boy, they were wack. It was garbage; despite maybe having similar backgrounds as rappers, their lives are totally different and they do not have the same reference material to pull from. While Red and Method became rap’s Cheech and Chong on a bong, Deon Sanders is rapping about joining the NFL and shit. Like Key and Peele noted, there’s something wrong with a person who deals with a lot of concussive contact and then tries to rap.
Some athletes actually have rap skill — Shaquille O’Neal, for example actually did and has widely accepted in the rap community, surprisingly. But no one really wanted to hear his super-husky voice on tracks rapping, we want see him actually make free throws.
Extinction or Evolution?
So in looking at all the wack MCs that existed yesteryear and looking at rap now, my opinion hold two possible answers, or a combination of both:
- Wack MCs EVOLVED into well-accepted rappers.
- Really great MCs illustrated wack behavior and we gave them a free pass, thus changing the standard.
Let’s examine a couple of things that happened throughout the years:
Biting becoming Acceptable
Jay-Z is without question, a rap phenomenon. Reasonable Doubt, is a hip-hop treasure. However I do believe that one reason why wack rappers don’t seem to exist is because things that were deemed garbage are now accepted. Around 2005, Jay-Z got into a small beef with Cam’ron. While Cam’ron — a rapper who I’m compelled to speak on next — isn’t powerful enough to murk Jay-Z in a beef, he CLEARLY had a valid complaint in regards to Jay-Z biting. When it was brought to light that Jay-Z has bitten a plethora of rappers, we made excuses.
I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!
Let me handle my business, damn ~ Jay-Z
In the sense of a corporation personification, Jay-Z by then was too big to fail; we were not going to let him being a biter be a deterrent in his success. After all, he’s still an awfully great rapper alone, and he has graced us with numerous tracks and collaborations. I will be the first one to admit that when it was revealed that Jay-Z was a huge biter, it broke a part of my heart still… because it marked the death of an era where biting was detested, and ushered a new era where rappers who bite other rappers, are accepted.
Highly Skilled Rappers Rapping Stupid
Cam’ron to me is the poster-child of this one, and it’s rappers like these who pisses me off. Nowadays folks may only know of Cam’ron from his post-Come Home With Me album where he just makes himself wack as fuck when it comes to lyricism. But a true hip-hop head like myself knows of Cam’ron during his Children of the Corn days, as well of is first two albums Confessions of Fire and S.D.E. Cam’ron is a rapper who dumbed down his lyricism; no longer rapping with the high multi-syllabic rhyme schemes. While rappers like even Jay-Z simply got better with age and continues to challenge himself, Cam’ron makes no effort to showcase the fact that he’s actually more skilled than what he portrays. Thus, this self-inflicted suppression of skill only normalizes wack rap behavior by mimicking sucker MC standards of style.
Fakeness Becoming Acceptable
Rick Ross is another phenomenon. The fact that he was a parole officer… back in the day, it would be rap-career suicide had it been known that you were a cop sitting there listening to numerous actual criminals’ stories, and then becoming a cocaine-rapper based on your experiences dealing with people in prison. His acceptance is categorically absurd, and that marked the point where it’s perfectly okay for rappers to be accepted even after lying about their lives. Sure, many rappers lie, but a cop though acting like he sold drugs is a little too much.
If rappers are the “new slaves” as Kanye describes, the battle rapper serves undisputedly as the “gladiator” slaves. Almost slipping my mind, I believe a final nail in the coffin was when Canibus — a battle rapper of renown — nearly destroyed hip-hop single-handedly by pulling out a notepad after being soundly defeated in a contest. Again, when great MCs do wack things they create a new standard. When I witnessed this for real, I couldn’t believe my fucking ears. A battle rap icon… true gladiator of the arena… threw his reputation away and all of a sudden became super-wack. I’m still in shock years later.
So overall I think the reason why wack rappers are not targeted for extinction anymore is not because we killed them all; we accepted them into mainstream. Drake, by the publishing date of this article, is currently the target of many memes declaring him as the wack rapper of our times. Maybe one day Drake will be a Hollywood superpower. With how we reward rappers these days, only time will tell. One thing for certain is that the extinction agenda and the war on wack rappers has long ended.